tv Andrea Mitchell Reports MSNBC January 7, 2013 10:00am-11:00am PST
he wore the uniform. always a challenge to the civilian leadership of the prosecute pentagon. at times of war. there's also a big policy debate in the next two years at the drawdown from afghanistan continues. then the other part of this is what is the big debate that's happening in this town over the next year, and it's going to be the budgets. the pentagon is a big part of this. what better than to have a republican senator be the guy on capitol hill lobbying and dealing with the pentagon, which is inevitable, but it's not an easy thing to do, so why not have a republican make that argument? it's the big picture thinking as far as the president is concerned. i want to talk to miling lighter for a moment. he had been at the cia and some said he wanted to be the first cia director.
he was opposed by a lot of -- on the left when those that were against policies that he had after 9/11 and under the bush white house, including enhanced interrogation techniques, including waterboarding. >> why is he the right fit for cia? >> i think is he the right fit that he knows the building missed and out. it is not an easy organization to manage. the second most important thing is the president and he have a really strong relationship. the president trusts him. in the director of the cia, someone who will be walking into the oval office, recommending covert action, giving very fine grain analysis about important national security issues, i think john is really an outstanding choice, and the president has seen him up close and personal for four years and that relationship makes john really a great person for the
job, i think. >> in the reorganization director of national intelligence, the cia director seems to report to him technically given the very close relationship that we all know between john brennan and the president. does this really supplant and change that whole reorganized new structure, the bureaucracy that some have said didn't work anyway? >> right. as we all know or those of us that have lived in this know this relationship has always been a little bit touchy between the dni and the director of the cia first with leon panetta and then with david petraeus because of that relationship to the white house. i actually think this one will work pretty well. i think he will let john run the
cia, and he will let john dive into some of these detailed intelligence questions. it can be a little bit hard when the director of the cia who reports has had relationships with the white house, but ultimately i think that relationship to the white house is so important to the president for having the cia i don't think there's any way around that, and i think both john and jim who know each other well have worked together a lot. that should be really quite a positive relationship. >> this is hillary clinton getting a joke gift. that is protective head gear in case you ever need protection from another fall. it is a football helmet with the state department seal.
you can see she's vemp back -- we're excited to see that. >> i read in the "new york times" i am sharing this because i was stunned by it. the amount of travel she has done as secretary of state. the "new york times" story said she has spent the equivalent of 87 full days on an airplane in her four years as secretary of state. i think that would take a toll on anyone. she clearly is someone who much like chuck todd, their work ethic is very high and they have a very high motor, but i do think it's important to remember as she comes to the end of her term as secretary of state, you know, we're so quick to jump in, and i'll put myself in this category to jump in the 2016 talks. i actually think she is honest
when she says i need some time to just decompress. >> that was before the onous. >> that's before that. this bears it out. this is someone who has pushed herself relentlessly without her life, but i would say the last four years and put the two years before that when she was running for president, this is someone who for the last six years has been going nonstop for the last six years nonstop on planes. i guess we're looking at 18 months to two years before she does really make a decision about what she wants to do, whether it's run for president or do something else. >> the expectation now that secretary of states travel, and it really is sort of more recent thing going back to the 1990s with secretary albright and then secretary rice and now secretary
clinton. secretary powell wasn't as big of a traveller as the other three women there. they all each broke one record after the other, and you have to ask yourself, is it -- are we doing -- are we putting too big of a burden, travel burden ownering these secretaries of state. >> one of the things that hillary rodham clinton healthing would believe strongly is that despite the new communications that has been revolutionized that person to person relationships are really important. sf the president has a 747, and she has a little closet. it's what you might remember the old schultz days, the old washington shuttle. seriously, her plane doesn't even get to europe without a refueling stop. that's how bad that 757 is. >> chuck, you know, it lael is
time for her to think about getting healthy and strong, but she looks great, so that's the good news. more again on hagel and this team, this foreign policy team. it occurs to me, gentlemen, that looking at this team this is not the team of rivals that president obama assembled in the first obama term. this is really the team of buddies, and it's all male. how does that play politically? zoo see that some cabinet posts are almost rewards for strong deputies, good super staffers. we're want seeing the president do this. he wants the people that he wants there, i mean, in a very -- he and -- look, chuck hagel was probably not the first choice of a lot of folks inside the west wing. there's some questions. can he manage a bureaucracy of his size? how many people are qualified to manage a bureaucracy the size of the defense department? he set that question aside. this is -- this was the
president's choice, first choice, and obviously this very close relationship with john brennan, trying to give sort of the cia its mojo back, if you will, in the intelligence community, and i think that that's something that brennan -- that some folks in the intel community i think are hoping brennan does. let's also not forget that, you know, with brennan and hagel going up at the same time, andrea, any questions that there might have been on brennan when it came to torture and the interrogation, that all goes away because i think all the focus is going to be on hagel. >> now, michael lighter, chuck todd has been reporting that dennis mcdonough is a lock for chief of staff to preplace jack lou when lou is nominated, we expect, to become treasury secretary, and tom donnell will stay as national security advisor. tell us what we -- what you know from working with tom donnell and dennis mcdonough, his deputy. >> well, tom -- talk about a bunch of hard-working folks. john brennan, dennis mcdonough,
and tom donlan have spent more time in those white house offices than anyone i know routinely putting in seven days a week. tom has become a trusted advisor to the president. originally close to rahm emanuel. he has managed the process in a very, very orderly way. dennis is a dear friend. i think he is a very strong leader, strong personality, and if he is actually given that responsibility by the president, it will be a big change for him. there will be other shoes to fill, but, again, we'll still see some people who have to fill those new white house positions that open up, but i think you've maybe lost the team of rivals, but what you have not lost is strong personalities with strong views. chuck hagel, john brennan, senator kerry sitting around that table. you are going to have people with very, very deep expertise. none of them are shrinking violets, and i think that will serve the president well. >> that's elizabeth hagel coming
in now, the hagel family. hagel, of course, of nebraska. we have a two-minute warning. that should mean that the president is about to come in. senator hagel, very close to senator obama when they were both senators. chris alissa, and traveled with him and jack reid to the middle east, iraq, and afghanistan when he was only the candidate obama and going up against john mccain, which could foretell what we may hear from john mccain. we haven't heard really very much from him about chuck hagel in this context. we have certainly heard from lindsey graham, and we'll hear from john cornyn coming up on this program who has been fiercely critical. >> i would say andrea two people to watch. you've got one. mccain absolutely because he was someone that was close to chuck hagel. kind of the reform-minded republicans. they clearly broke, parted ways on iraq. i do think that chuck hagel, politics does always matter. i think the fact that chuck hagel full throatedly endorsed bob kerry in nebraska in 2012
will not sit well with other republicans. i think the other senator we need to watch, which this is chuck schumer, the new york democrat, very powerful form heard of the senatorial campaign committee, you know, widely seen as probably the next leader of the democrats and the senate. who was skeptical about the idea of a hagel pick, in part, because of his past statements on israel. schumer, i assume, will get in line. though probably not in a thrilled way, but those are the two i'm at least paying attention to. >> when chuck schumer was asked on "meet the press" we were sitting there on the set watching. it was luke warm at best. >> it's my understanding. there is a potential double digit group of senators who -- >> the door is opening now to -- >> to perform well in these courtesy -- he'll be in trouble. >> the president is now coming into the east room. we see him walking in now
accompanied by leon panetta, chuck hagel, john brennan. let's listen. >> as president and commander in chief my most solemn obligation is the security of the american people. over the past for you years we've met that responsibility by ending the war in iraq and beginning a transition in afghanistan, by decimating the clat core and taking out osama bin laden. by disrupting terrorist plots and saving countless american lives. among an outstanding national security team, i am especially grateful to leon panetta who has led the cia and our military with incredible skill. we after nearly five decades of service you have more than earned the right to return to civilian life. i'll have much more to say about
leon's distinguished service in the days ahead. today i simply want to convey both to you and to sylvia the eteshl gratitude of the entire nation. thank you so much. i also want to thank michael morrell, who has earned the admiration of all of us who worked with him across government and here in the white house. in moments of transition, he has guided the cia with a steady hand as acting director, not once but twice. he is a consequence mat professional, as i said. everybody in the white house who works with him. everybody across agencies who works with him considers him truly to be one of our most outstanding national security team members, and so michael, on behalf of all of us and mary beth for your continued service. as these leaders know, the work of protecting our nation is never done.
we've still got much to do. ending the war in afghanistan and caring for those who have born the battle. preparing for the full range of threats from the unconventional to the conventional, including things like cyber security and within our military continuing to insure that our men and women in uniform can serve the country they love no matter who they love. to help meet the challenges of our time, i'm prude to announce my choice for two key members of my national security team. chuck hagel for secretary of defense and john brennan for director of the central intelligence agency. chuck hagel is the leader that our troops deserve. he is an american patriot. he enlisted in the army and volunteered for vietnam. as a young private and then a sergeant, he served with honor along side his own brother.
when chuck was hit by shrapnel, his brother saved him. when his brother was injured by a mine, chuck risked his life to pull him to safety. to this day chuck bears the scars and the shrapnel from battles he fought in our name. chuck hagel's leadership of our military would be historic. he would be the first person of enlisted rank to serve as secretary of defense. one of the few secretaries who have been wounded in war and the first vietnam veteran to lead the department. as i saw during our visits together in afghanistan and iraq in chuck hagel, our troops see a decorated combat veteran of character and strength. they see one of their own. chuck is a champion of our troops and our veterans and our military families. as a leader of the v.a., he fought to give our veterans the benefits they deserved. as head of the u.s.o. he devoted
himself to caring for our troops. having studied under the g.i. bill himself, he helped lead the fight for the post-9/11 g.i. bill, so today's returning heroes can get their education too. having co-chaired my intelligence advisory board, he knows that our armed forces collect, analyze, and depend on good intelligence. chuck recognizes that american leadership is indispensable in a dangerous world. i saw in in our travels together across the middle east. he understands that america stands strongest and we stand with allies and with friends. as a successful businessman, he also knows that even as we made tough fiscal choices, we have to do so wisely, guided by our strategy and keep our military the strongest fighting force the world has ever known. maybe more importantly, chuck knows that war is not an ab strakz. he understands that sending
young americans to fight and bleed in the dirt and mud, that's something we only do when it's absolutely necessary. my frame of reference, he has said, is geared towards the guy at the bottom who is doing the fighting and the dying. with chuck our troops will always know just like sergeant hagel was there for his own brother, secretary hagel will be there for you. finally, chuck represents the bipart sfwlan tradition that we need more of in washington. for his independence and commitment to consensus, he has earned the respect of national security and military leaders, republicans and democrats, including me. m senate i came to admire his courage and his judgment, his willingness to speak his mind, even if it wasn't popular. even if it defied the conventional wisdom.
that's exactly the spirit i want on my national security team. when it comes to the defense of our country, we are not democrats or republicans. we are americans. each of us has a responsibility, chuck has said, to be guided not by the interests of our party or our president even, but by the interests of our country. chuck, i thank you, and lily beth for agreeing to serve once more in the interest of our country. now, when i'm on the subject of patriots, let me say a few words about john brennan. in john brennan, the men and women of the cia will have the leadership of one of our nation's most skilled and respected intelligence professionals. not to mention that unique combination of smarts and strength that he claims comes from growing up in new jersey. a 25-year veteran of the cia,
john knows what our national security demands. intelligence that provides policy makers with the facts. strong analytic insights and a keen understanding of a dynamic war. given his extensive experience and travels, which include, by the way, traveling through the arabian peninsula where he travelled with transcribesmen in the desert, john that is an invaluable perspective on the forces, the history, the culture, the politics, economics, the desire for human dignity driving so much of the changes in today's world. having held senior management analytic and operational positions at the agency, john is committed to investing in the range of intelligence capables fwheed, technical and human. he literally built and then led the national counterterrorism center, and he knows the risks that our intelligence
professionals face every day. john has lost colleagues and friends, heroes whose stars now grace that wall at langley. the last four years as my advisor for counterterrorism and homeland security john developed and has overseen our comprehensive counterterrorism strategy, a collaborative effort across the government, including elements and homeland security and law enforcement agencies. think about the results. more al qaeda leaders and commanders have been removed from battlefield than at any time since 9/11. their communications recruiting, traek, financing are all under enormous strain. all of which makes it harder to plan and carry out large scale attacks against our homeland. our entire team, including our exceptional director of national intelligence, jim clapper, will remain relentless against al qaeda and its affiliates.
in all this week john has been tireless. people here in the white house work hard. john is legendary even in the white house for working hard. he is one of the hardest working public servants i have ever seen. i'm not sure he has slept in four years. when i was on martha's vineyard, john came and did the press briefing. it was in the summer. it's august. is he in full suit and tie. one of the reporters asked him don't you ever get any downtime? john said i don't do down time. he is not even smiling now. [ laughter ] there's another reason i value john so much, and that is his integrity and his commitment to the values that define us as
americans. he has worked to embed our efforts in a strong legal framework. he understands we are a nation of laws. in moments of debate and decision, he asks the tough questions and he insists on high and rigorous standards. he has spoken to the american people about our policies because he recognizes we have a responsibility to be open and transparent as possible. so john, you have been one of my closest advisors. you have been a great friend. i am deeply grateful for your extraordinary service. i'm even more grateful for cathy's willingness to put up with you, and i'm grateful to both of you for your willingness to take this assignment. today i have say to the men and women of the cia and director john brennan, you will have one of your own, a leader who knows you, who cares for you deeply and who will fight for you every
single day. you'll have a leader who has my complete confidence and my complete trust. as i said, the work of defending our nation is never done. my number one criteria in making these decisions was simple. who is going to do the best job in securing america? these two leaders have dedicated their lives to protecting our country. i am confident they will do an outstanding job. i urge the senate to confirm them as soon as possible so we can keep our nation secure and the american people safe. so, chuck, john, congratulations, and with that you want to invite each of these leaders on stage to say a few words starting with mr. leon panetta.
first of all, let me express my deepest gratitude to the president for giving me the honor and the prif of serving in your administration these last for you years as director of the cia and now as secretary of defense. i have been extremely proud to be part of your national security team, mr. president, and to be proud of what it has accomplished in your first term. looking ahead to the second term, i want to commend president obama on his decision to nominate chuck hagel as the next secretary of defense and let me also add as former director of the cia to commend the president for his choice of john brennan. i've had the opportunity to work with john and counterterrorism issues, these last for you years. he knows the cia. he will be a strong leader of that great intelligence agency.
i've also known chuck for a long period of time as well. i had the opportunity to work with him closely. particularly in his twaft as chairman of the president's intelligence advisory board. i greatly appreciate the work he has done to strengthen our intelligence enterprise. it has been extremely important to our ability to improve our intelligence capabilities. as secretary of defense i also benefited from his work when he served on our defense policy board. chuck hagel is a patriot, he is a decorated combat veteran, and he is a dedicated public servant. i believe his experience, his judgment, his deep understanding of the security issues facing this country make him the right choice to be secretary of
defense. as for me after close to 50 years of serving the american people began in 1964 when i served as a first lieutenant in the united states army and then in both the legislative and executive branch positions in washington. the time has come for me to return to my wife sylvia, our three sons, their families, our six grandchildren, and my walnut farm. dealing with a different set of nuts. [ laughter ] i want to deeply thank my family for giving me the fullest measure of love and support during my many absences from home throughout my long career in public service, but i will leave washington with a very deep sense of pride in what we have accomplished during these
last four years being on the president's national security team. as both director of the cia and as secretary of defense, i have always believed that our fundamental mission is to keep america safe, keep america secure and because of the outstanding dedication of our intelligence and military professionals, america is safer and more secure than it was four years ago, and we have reached a turning point after more than a decade of war, and on that as we've reached that turning point, we've developed a new defense strategy for the 21st century. we have with john's leadership decimated al qaeda's leadership and weakened their effort to attack this country. we have brought wars in iraq and we will bring the war in afghanistan to an honorable
conclusion. we've opened up opportunities for all americans to serve in our military, and we continue to strongly support our forces, their families, and our wounded warriors. these are some of the achievement that is i am proud of. let me close by expressing my profound gratitude to the outstanding team of military and civilian staff and leaders that i have had the honor to serve with at the department of defense and at the white house. in particular, let me deeply thank the outstanding men and women in uniform who i have had the privilege to serve and to lead. those who put their lives on the line every day on distant battlefields for this country. their sacrifices teach us that freedom is not free, a strong democracy depends on a strong defense, but you can also not have a strong and stable defense
without a strong and stable democracy. as we continue to confront strategic challenges and fiscal austerity, my hope for the future is that the sense of duty our service members and their families exhibit every day inspires the leaders of this nation to have the courage to do what is right to achieve the american dream, to give our children a better life, and to build a more secure future. >> thank you, mr. president. i'm honored by your trust and your confidence in me and not unmindful of the immense responsibilities that go with it. i want to also acknowledge my wife lillybeth, my son allen,
and our son who is in chicago today, we hope, back attending his first day of classes at de paul university. to my friend leon panetta, thank you for your extraordinary service to our country. over so many years in so many capacities. you are one of the premier public servants of our time. to follow you at the department of defense will be a most challenging task, but i will try to live up to the standards that you, bob gates, and others have set for this job and this nation. let me also express my deep appreciation and congratulations to my friend john brennan and to also acknowledge the president's confidence and trust in john brennan. thank you, john, for your service and for what you will continue to do for our country. to mike morrell, who i have
gotten to know over the years, not just serving on the senate intelligence committee, but also as the president has noted, the privilege of co-chairing the president's intelligence advisory board with former senator dave boren. thank you, mike are four your continued service. mr. president, i'm grateful for this opportunity to serve our country again. especially its men and women in uniform and their families. these are people who give so much to this nation every day with such dignity and selflessness. this is particularly important at a time as we complete our mission in afghanistan and support the troops and military families who have sacrificed so much over more than a decade of war. i'm also grateful for an opportunity to help continue to strengthen our country and strengthen our country's alliances and advance global freedom, decency, and humanity
as we help build a better world for all mankind. i will always do my best. i will do my best for my country, for those i represent at the pentagon, and for all our citizens. mr. president, i will always give you my honest and most informed counsel. thank you very much. >> mr. president, thank you for your very kind remarks, and thank you for the trust that you placed in me when you asked me to be acting director twice. i have had the honor of knowing and working with john brennan for the last 20 years. we have worked particularly closely the last three years. john brennan is an intelligence professional with deep experience in our business. a public servant with
extraordinary dedication and a man of deep integrity. with senate confirmation i know that he will be an outstanding director of the central intelligence agency. as the president noted, john started his career at cia and spent nearly a quarter century, so this is a homecoming for john. john, on behalf of the talented and dedicated men and women of cia, it is my deep honor to say welcome home. >> mr. president, it is indeed a tremendous honor to be nominated the director of the central intelligence agency. the women and men of the cia are among the most dedicated, courageous, selfless, and hard-working individuals who have ever served this country.
at great personal risk and sacrifice, they have made countless invaluable contributions to our national security and to the safety and security of all americans. most times the successes will never be known outside the hallowed halls of langley and the oval office. leading the agency in which i serbed for 25 years would be the greatest privilege as well as the greatest responsibility of my professional life. mr. president, i want to thank you for your confidence in me, but even more for your confidence and constant support to the cia and to those who serve in the intelligence community. they need and deserve the support of all of their fellow americans. especially at a time of such tremendous national security challenges. if confirmed as director, i will make it my mission to insure that the cia has the tools it needs to keep our nation safe
and that its work always reflects the liberties, the freedoms, and the values that we hold so dear. i'm especially proud to stand here today with such patriots as leon panetta, chuck hagel, and michael morrell. it was a tremendous honor to serve with leon over the past four years. i very much look forward to the opportunity and privilege to serve with another of america's great patriots, chuck hagel. i am especially proud and touched to be able to stabbed here today with my close friend and colleague michael morrell who epitomizes what it means to be a leadership professional. his career in the cia and his 32 year career has been nothing short of exemplary. i look very much in working with you in the weeks, months, and years ahead. i also look forward to working with congress as our national security rests on the ability of the executive and legislative branches of our government to
work as a team. while the intelligence profession oftentimes demands skresy, it is critically important that will be a full and open discourse on intelligence mraerts with the appropriate elected representatives of the american people. although i consider myself neither a republican nor a democrat, i very much look forward to working closely with those on both sides of the aisle. finally and most importantly, to my wife cathy and to my children kyle, jacquelin, kelly, to my parents in new jersey, a shout-out. [ laughter ] >> owen is 92, and my mom, dorothy, is 91, my brother tom and my sister cathleen, and my jersey roots, i could not where i am today without their love, their patience, their understanding, and their support. there is no way i can ever repay that except to say i think i'm going to need it for a little bit longer. [ laughter ] >> so, again, mr. president, i am deeply grateful for this opportunity. it will be bittersweet to leave
all of my close colleagues and friends here at the white house and at the national security staff who i have come to work with and respect so deeply over the last for you years. but if confirmed by the senate, i will consider it to be the honor of my life to serve as the 21st director of the central intelligence agency. >> these are four outstanding individuals. we are grateful to all of them. i want, in particular, to thank mike morrell and leon panetta for their extraordinary service, and i just want to repeat i hope that the senate will act on these confirmations promptly. when it comes to national security, we don't like to leave a lot of gaps between the time that one set of leaders transitions out and another transitions in. so we need to get moving quickly on this.
final point out make one of the reasons that i am so confident that chuck hagel is going to be an outstanding secretary of defense and john brennan is going to be an outstanding director of the central intelligence agency is they understand that we are only successful because of the folks up and down the line in these respective institutions. the folks on the ground who are oftentimes putting their lives at risk for us and are oftentimes at great remove from washington and its politics. to have those who have been in the field, who have been in the heat of battle, who understand the consequences of decisions that we make in this town and how it has an impact and ramifications for everybody who actually has to execute our national security strategies,
that's something invaluable. it will provide me the kinds of insights that i need in making very difficult decisions but it will also mean that these folks are going to be looking out for the people who work for them and that's something that i think in these leadership positions is absolutely critical. i'm looking forward to working with these two gentlemen. they are going to be outstanding. thank you very much, everyone. [ applause ] >> and with that you can see, first of all, the strong personal relationship that this president has with both chuck hagel and particularly with john brennan. the warmth of those statements and the thank yous from leon panetta and mike morrell at the cia. these are going to be very popular choices inside the institutions, but whether they are on capitol hill is another question. we have just heard from john mccain. the statement we've been waiting for from john mccain that chuck hagel served in vietnam with honor, and he congratulates him. however, he says he has serious
concerns about positions senator hagel has taken on a range of critical national security issues in recent years which we must fully consider in the course of his confirmation process in the senate armed services committee. one of chuck hagel's strongest supporters is the most senior retired career diplomat we have, veteran ambassador thomas pickering, ambassador pickering, thank you very much. why is chuck hagel the best person for this job given what lindsey graham and now john mccain and other of his former republican colleagues have said? >> andrea, because he understands what it is needed to meet america's national security needs perhaps as well as anybody because he has the trust and confidence of the president, because he has been over the ground on the senate foreign relations committee and the senate intelligence committee, because he has worked with veterans, because he himself has born the pain of battle and
indeed been wounded for his country in its service. because he is a man of integrity who speaks his mind, who knows his mind, and will give the president the best of all possible advice at a time when we will be under enormous pressure to meet our national security needs and to provide for the fiscal health of our country in ways that perhaps have not been tested before until now. i have known chuck hagel for years. i have the greatest sense that he is perhaps of all the candidates fa and away the best one and certainly the president has ratified that in the enormously important statement he made today in supporting his nomination of chuck hagel to be the next secretary of defense. >> ambassador, one of the criticisms is, first of all, that he has not been strong enough supporting israel. in fact, has been too critical of israel. i wanted to give you a chance to
address that. also that the real job for defense secretary coming up is going to be budget cutting. getting your arms around a huge organization. i know he is a very successful businessman, but what in his background would make him the best person to find the ways to cut spending and develop the political coalitions with all this accurate simple now from the republican party sf how is he going to get the support in congress to cut things from the pentagon budget? >> there are two important questions here. i address the fiscal one just very briefly. you put a lot of attention to it. i agree with you. i can't think of someone who would be better suited than chuck hagel to deal with this issue. very successful businessman on his own. someone who knows the defense business from the bottom up, who knows and understands particularly what is required m department of defense to meet the essential needs for the future, someone who understands the conflicts, the regions, and,
indeed, the challenges that we will face, and in that regard my own feeling is that chuck will, as he always has done, calls it as he sees it. he and the president have been skre close. they travel together to iraq and afghanistan several years ago. they came to know and understand that conflict firsthand. they came to realize, many of the, that those conflicts needed to be brought to conclusion in a way that brought an exit strategy, that provided for our national security interest that brought honor to the people who made sacrifices in those regions and at the same time assured that we as a country could, in fact, muster the financial support and, indeed, the national support to move the process ahead. people have a tendency in these kinds of situations where a new and potentially different sort of approach is being brought to
defense by chuck hagel to ask questions, and, indeed they should. senator mcconnell was right to say that this should be a fair process and an open process. i have every sense that senator hagel knows what it is that he believes immediate to be done. he has this now unique funt before our public and indeed before the world to place those priorities that he knows and understands that will support the president in that direction. on israel i had the honor of serving there as ambassador some years ago. i have stayed up with israel. senator hagel has voted successively over 12 years for $40 billion worth of assistance for the state of israel. he knows and understands the essential defense relationship which we and israel share in a very difficult part of the world. at the same time he is known for being the kind of person who can
ask the difficult questions. not that he prejudges the answers, but he has been known for saying that it is not unpatriotic to raise the questions that will, in fact, be of critical importance to the country for the future. it is unpatriotic to gloss over those. in that way my sense of his support for israel for a two-state solution which provides israel with the opportunity to be both jewish and democratic, the inspirations of the state from the very beginning, those are the kinds of reasons why i believe the senate should support chuck hagel as the next secretary of defense. >> thank you, ambassador. didn't mean to interrupt. we'll have to leave it there, but thank you very much. to be continued. i know you'll be speaking about this. and joining us now is john cornyn, one of the sharpest, strongest critics of chuck hagel, and a former colleague. senator cornyn, why do you think tom pickering, ambassador pickering, doesn't have this
right? >> well, i think it's not a matter of personalities. i've known chuck haling. he is an honorable man. he has had a record of distinguished service, but he is profoundly wrong on a number of the most important national security issues that face our country today, like denying iran nuclear weapons, like direct face-to-face negotiations with state department designated terrorist organizations like hamas, and calling into question our commitment to our principle ally in the middle east, israel. those are three things that strike me as senator hagel being out of the mainstream, and i believe just wrong when it comes to protecting the national security of the united states. >> colin powell has just endorsed him within the last half hour, saying that he is bold, he is independent, he is the right person for the pentagon. colin powell no slouch when it comes to being tough on iran. >> well, as you know, washington d.c. is a pretty tight little
click, and there's a lot of people who have had long established relationships and, of course, they're going to support their friends. i think we have to step outside of the personalities and those relationships to look at the policies. on the policies that i mentioned senator hagel, i believe, is out of the mainstream. many people have questioned his commitment to making sure that iran does not get nuclear weapons. that's the single biggest national security challenge we have. i have to take a different point of view than ambassador pickering and others. it is not the department of defense's job to worry about the job that congress has to protect our country from the fiscal standpoint. that is the number one threat to the u.s. is mounting debt but the commander in chief seems disinterested in dealing with
that but on iran, on direct face to face negotiations with terrorist organizations like hamas and questioning our commitment to israel, our principle ally in the middle east, chuck hagel is clearly outside of the mainstream and even in contradicts this administration's own stated policies in many respects. >> senator, does chuck hagel need to get 51 votes or 60 votes or might someone like yourself put a block on this? >> i think it's premature to talk about that process. what i think he deserves and he is going to get is a full and fair hearing. the president does his job by nominating his chosen individual, but then, the senate has a separate constitutional responsibility. we are going to give senator hagel a full chance to defend his stance and i think that are
going to cause concerns on a bipartisan basis. >> finally before i let you go, i know you were in charge of the campaign committee and republicans elected. is part of this the fact that he supported his former colleague bob kerry, a medal of honor winner and fellow former vietnam veteran who lost his leg in vietnam, is that part of this with you? >> not at all. >> okay. >> it's clear that chuck hagel left the republican party endorsing president obama in 2008 but this isn't politics or personalities. this is about being wrong on the principle national security issues that confront our country today and his lack of suitability for being the head of our national security apparatus at the pentagon. >> john cornyn, thank you very much for coming on and staying with us through the long white house ceremony. we really do appreciate that. >> thank you. one of the newest members of congress and openly gay senator, tammy baldwin.
senator, thank you very much for joining us. a couple of issues here. one is chuck hagel's -- >> thank you. >> -- anti-gay comment 14 years ago he said that he was aggressively gay and should not be -- i think that was the term, should not be representing the united states and since apologized for that. enough to satisfy the human rights campaign and chad griffin. what is your position on this nomination at this point? >> well, i have to say unlike some of the folks you have been interviewing, i do not know chuck hagel. even though our service overlapped in the house and his in the senate, i plan to ask some tough questions to give a thorough review and to be fair but i do want to speak with him particularly about his comments 14 years ago to see if his apology is sincere and sufficient. i want to hear how he's evolved on this issue in the last 14
years because the significance to the post to which he's been nominated is the respect for now openly gay members of the military who, because of the repeal of don't ask don't tell, can serve openly and we need to see that implemented successfully, especially because the security of this nation is at stake in all of these regards. >> you are one of 20 women now in the senate from both parties and that is a high watermark. not good enough at least if we want to be representative as the population is but it's 20. but what about this new foreign policy team? this president has now assembled a white male team of top foreign policy advisers. do you have any searches about how the cabinet is shaping up? >> well, you know, that's actually a great point to raise in terms of the opportunity i'll
have as these nominees come before the u.s. senate. and i get to ask the tough questions and give a thorough review, is how do they see their capacity to promote women in all of these positions? let's look at the military. we have seen great changes and great strides in terms of women's service in the u.s. military. but we also know that they face incredible challenges that their male counterparts don't necessarily face. with regard to chuck hagel's nomination, i want to talk to him about that, also. >> senator baldwin, as one of the first women and we'll be interviewing all of the 20 women in the senate, so far you have only been on the job a couple of days but so far what are your top priorities? >> right. >> as we close out this very unusual show this hour.
>> well, i have to say that i want to carry on much of the work that i spoke about during my very tough campaign for u.s. senate. wisconsinites, we have seen our middle class shrink, i think getting wisconsin back to work, america back to work has to be our central focus. we cannot ignore the challenge of our national debt and deficit, though, and so as we confront that, what i want to make sure is we do so in a fair and balanced way so that we tackle it without shortchanging our people's future. >> senator tammy bad win, the first of many interviews, i hope. thank you for joining us today. that does it for us for this special edition of "andrea mitchell reports." [ male annou] no matter what city you're playing tomorrow. [ coughs ] ♪ [ male announcer ] you can't let a cold keep you up tonight. vicks nyquil -- powerful nighttime
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i'm tamron hall. following breaking news. the fight for chuck hagel is now in full throttle. in the last hour, president obama announced his pick of hagel as defense secretary and tapped john brennan to head the cia. the heat, though, focused solely right now on hagel who's pulling the president in to the line of fire from both the right and a few names on the left. the president today focused not on the criticism but hagel's stellar military career. >> chuck hagel is the leader that our troops deserve. he is an american patriot. he enlisted in the army and volunteered for vietnam. to this day, chuck bares the scars and shrapnels of battles fought in our name. troops see a soldier of strength and character. they see one of their own. >> republicans are blasting hagel for comments of referring to the, quote, jewish lobby. and on his voting record on iraq
and a warning the white house is in for a tough fight. he's long severed the ties with the republican party. this is an in your face nomination by the president. >> if hagel is nominated, it is very difficult to imagine a circumstance to support his confirmation. >> politico reports five different groups that could hamper the nomination. why is the president sticking with hagel. nbc's first read team says there are two big reasons, quote, one, he likes the idea of a man who wore the uniform and will not intimidated by the generals at the pentagon. and two, with the budget fight dominating and issue of downsizing on the table, what better person to have leading the downsizing argument than a former republican senator? joining me now from the pentagon is nbc news chief white house political correspondent jim miklaszewski. a ton of reaction coming in.
colin powell and john mccain. i like to point out what the first read team said here. the big problem is that he has no scandal, served as a senator and we know as the president really honed in on his record serving this country as a foot soldier. >> reporter: i'm sorry, tamron. is there a question in there? >> there is. >> reporter: i'm sorry. >> hello 2013. back at it again. so mick, the point is it's difficult. he's fought for the country. how do those who oppose this nomination come out when we're at a time when, for example, many on the right say we're supposed to support the troops. >> reporter: well, you know, i don't want to get in to the politics of it. that's for capitol hill and the white house to worry about but the initial reaction of uniformed personnel at various